Advising at Southern Miss

 

Advising at Southern Miss

 

Who Is My Advisor?

All students are assigned an academic advisor when they declare a major. You can find out who your assigned advisor is by logging in to your SOAR account and going to your Student Center. Your advisor will be listed in the right hand column. Click the details link to send your advisor an email or get your advisor's office phone number. If you plan to call your advisor, remember that faculty spend a lot of time teaching, researching, and serving on university committees, and may only be in their offices during their official office hours.

 

Why Do I Need an Advisor?

Getting a degree is more complicated than just attending classes. There's paperwork to fill out, deadlines to pay attention to, and a degree plan that needs to be followed to make sure you take all the classes you need to graduate on time. Your advisor can help you through all of these things. In addition, your advisor is a valuable resource for letters of recommendation, internship and career advice, and helping you choose classes, minors, and double majors that will help you on the career path you choose. 

 

Can I Change Advisors?

Your advisor should be someone you feel comfortable talking with about how things are going. If you find a professor in your department that you particularly like, most departments are willing to switch your advisor if you call the department office. You can find your department's contact information by going to the University's Academics page and clicking Colleges. Once you've navigated to your college, you'll be able to view the departments in the college, and all department home pages list contact information.

 

 

 

Schedule an appointment during your department's advising period.

Advisors block off a lot of time during the scheduled advisement period to talk to students. While you can meet with your advisor any time to talk about career choices or difficulties you're having in your classes, make your main advisement appointment during the advisement period to ensure that you get into all the classes you want. Advisement for Fall happens in March, and Spring advisement is in October, but different departments may advise at different times, so check with the department office for exact dates. Once you have scheduled an appointment, show up on time! If for some reason you cannot make it to your scheduled appointment, email your advisor as soon as possible to let him/her know, and ask if you can reschedule at a time that is convenient for him/her.

 

Respond to your advisor's emails. 

If your advisor emails you before advisement to let you know when s/he will be available to meet (or emails you any time to let you know about important deadlines coming up) make sure you respond in a timely manner. 

 

Build a relationship with your advisor.

The better your advisor knows you, the more s/he will be able to help you. Make sure you let your advisor know which classes you like and which classes you're struggling with, and if you're in danger of failing a class, talk to your advisor about resources on campus that offer academic tutoring. Make sure your advisor knows what career path you're interested in, or ask for suggestions if you're not sure yet. Advisors have a wealth of information about employment opportunities for people in your field; take advantage of it.

 

Prepare for appointments ahead of time.

Advisors will check your schedule and make sure you are on track to graduate, and will sometimes suggest alternative courses that might be more tailored to your future career, but you should already have a tentative schedule (either enroll in the classes outright or put them in your SOAR shopping cart) before your appointment. If you're unsure what to register for, check out your degree progress report in SOAR by navigating to your Student Center under Self Service and choosing Advisement/Degree Progress Report from the drop down box under Academics. This will show you all the classes you still need to take in order to graduate. You can also download a PDF of your degree plan, which will allow you to see all the requirements at a glance, and you can view the complete Southern Miss schedule to choose electives that interest you.  

 

 

Advising Quick Links

 

 
  

 

Advising FAQ

 

How do I contact my advisor?

When you log in to your SOAR account, click on the Student Center tile, and your advisor’s name and contact information on the right-hand side. If you don’t see a name or have any questions, you should call or stop by the main office of the school where your major is housed and ask them the best way to make an appointment to be advised. Different programs on campus have different ways of advising, so the best thing to do is just call your major’s office and ask if you are new or are not sure. 

How do I know what courses to take next?

Most students follow the Semester-by-Semester guides in the official Undergraduate Bulletin – you can find these guides by clicking on your college (in the left-hand menu), then your school, then scrolling to the bottom of the page for the guides. You can scroll through the one for your major, marking off classes you have taken (here, at a prior institution, through dual enrollment, or AP), and tentatively make a list of possible classes that would be good next-term options. Students also search within SOAR through their enrollment shopping cart for “my requirements” each term to find required courses they have not yet taken. 

How do I know if I should take Summer or Intersession classes?

During the upcoming March registration period, you will be able to enroll in summer (including the May intersession) and fall (including the August intersession). We encourage students to think about taking both summer and intersession classes to space out the classes they have to take and lighten their load for the regular fall and spring terms.
For fall semester, remember that the August intersession counts as part of fall semester for tuition and scholarship/financial aid credit hour calculations. What that means is that you can complete a three-hour August intersession (online or in-person) then complete 12 hours in the full fall session and you will earn 15 hours in the fall semester, meeting your requirements for most scholarships and financial aid. 

What are the fees and policies for Intersession classes, and what classes are offered?

Intersession classes are part of the semester right after them, in terms of tuition and which semester the hours “count” for – so May is part of summer and August is part of fall. There is an additional $20 per credit hour fee for intersession (in addition to any other class fees), but no tuition charge.
Important policy: Students can only take a maximum of one class (4 credit hours) during the intersession, due to the time demands of taking a full semester course in only three weeks.
We have a special webpage just for intersession classes. It will soon be updated with information about class offerings for summer and fall!

What if I want to take Summer classes at another institution?

We know that sometimes students need to enroll elsewhere in the summer for various reasons. Before you enroll, you must complete a Permission to Transfer Credit form and have that signed by the appropriate people. If approved, this form will guarantee you that the classes will be able to be transferred back to Southern Miss.

What if I don’t think all my transferred classes are showing up in my record?

I’d recommend starting with a review of your current Degree Progress Report (found in your Student Center, under the pull-down menu) to identify what requirements you have fulfilled and what you still need to complete. If you haven’t done so already, take a moment to be sure that any transfer credits and/or AP credits that you have are showing up in your record as they should. (Note: If you took dual enrollment credits in high school, you must request that transcripts be sent from the school that offered the classes at your high school – your high school transcript will not be enough.) View instructions for how to review your credits and make sure everything has transferred in that you have requested. 

What if I want to change my major?

If you know what you want to change your major to, you need to complete a change of major form. If you are not sure what you want to change to, start with our online resources to explore your options. You can talk to faculty and/or directors of programs you are interested in to consider your options. If you want to consider your options broadly, dig into the online tool “What Can I Do With This Major?” to learn about jobs associated with different degrees, and spend some time using our Focus tool to learn about your specific options. Our Career Services offers Focus for students, and you will need a special code to log in: USM500. Once you work on Focus a bit, contact Career Services for an appointment to talk with someone about your options. We will be glad to help you find your way to the right major for you. 
Note: While you are in the process of changing your major, you will need to be advised by the program listed as your current official major in SOAR in order to have your hold lifted for registration.

I’m struggling in one of my classes. Should I drop it and take a W?

Check out the academic resources available to you. Perhaps learning about note-taking would help, too. If you think you can redeem the class and get the grade you need, stick it out.
If you are sure that you can’t turn your grade in the class around, talk with your professor and be sure. If you still want to drop it, you can log in to SOAR and request a W in the class. Assuming your professor approves, then you will have a W instead of a grade (the W has no impact on your GPA).<

I need to take another class. How can I find half-semester courses for the second half?

Second half-semester courses run from the midpoint in the semester until the end of the semester for a total of 8 weeks. You can find start and end dates for 8WK2 classes in the Academic Calendar. You can search for them in SOAR—under the “session” pull-down menu, choose “Eight Week–Second.”

What should I talk with my advisor about?
  • Your advisor is there to make sure that you are making good plans for what classes to take in the upcoming semester. He or she is also there to help you think about ways to improve your performance in school and get ready for your next step after Southern Miss.

  • Before you talk with your advisor, consider your plans for the upcoming years as a student or, if you are in your junior or senior year, for after you graduate. Think of questions to ask your advisor about study abroad, internships, volunteering, ways you can get involved on campus, or perhaps tips on how to gain experience to help with applying for jobs or graduate school.

What if I have no idea what I want to do with my life?
  • You are not alone. Many students struggle to select a major and, later, to identify a next step.

  • Talk to your advisor, and talk with other people on campus who can help. You should definitely visit Career Services and take some of their assessments to see which direction(s) they point you in based on your interests.

  • Talk to professors whose classes you enjoy. They can help you think about your interests and possible majors as well.

  • Talk to other students to learn about their experiences and the options they have found.

  • Volunteer—learn about yourself while helping the community. The Office of Community and Civic Engagement can help you find a place to serve.

  • Seek an internship. Career Services can help, but don’t be afraid to search the web yourself—you might find some interesting options than can help you clarify what you should do.

  • Still at a loss? Contact Dr. Amy Miller at a.c.miller@usm.edu, and we will do what we can to connect you with other people to help you find your way.